Purification and structural studies of a major scrapie prion protein

Cell. 1984 Aug;38(1):127-34. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(84)90533-6.


Scrapie is a degenerative, neurological disorder caused by a slow infectious agent or prion. Extensively purified preparations of prions were denatured by boiling in sodium dodecyl sulfate and the major protein component (PrP 27-30) was isolated by preparative HPLC size exclusion chromatography after proteinase K digestion. The purified PrP 27-30 molecules were not infectious. Ultraviolet absorption spectra of purified PrP 27-30 demonstrated the absence of covalently linked polynucleotides. Amino acid composition studies showed that PrP 27-30 contains at least 17 naturally occurring amino acids. A single N-terminal amino acid sequence for PrP 27-30 was obtained; the sequence is N-Gly-Gln-Gly-Gly-Gly-Thr-His-Asn-Gln-Trp-Asn-Lys-Pro-Ser-Lys and it does not share homology with any known proteins. The same amino acid sequence was found when an extensively purified preparation of prions aggregated into rods and containing approximately 10(9.5) ID50 U/ml was sequenced directly. Knowledge of the amino acid sequence should permit determination of the genetic origin and replication mechanism of prions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animals
  • Brain / microbiology
  • Cricetinae
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Molecular Weight
  • Prions / analysis*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Viral Proteins / isolation & purification*


  • Amino Acids
  • Prions
  • Viral Proteins